in progress: garden & dye

While other people were preparing to be Raptured, I was preparing to dye.

I decided a while ago to try copper-penny dyeing, as something to hold me over until all my plants grow up. Instructions on the internet are multiple and don’t always agree, so I decided to take the basics (copper, acid/base, time) and wing it.

Some folks use (pre-1982)pennies, some use copper pipe, some use copper scrubbies. It seems like, providing that they’re all pure or mostly-pure copper, the only difference would be in the surface area. Does that matter? I have no idea, but I decided to test it. Since I only have two large glass jars, I decided not to bother with the pipe.

Continue reading “in progress: garden & dye”

in progress: garden

Several weeks ago, when Sadie had her paleontological adventure in our backyard, I planted a hop.

This is not a skeletal hand holding a stick. It is a hop rhizome, or an underground section of stalk that’ll become a clone of the plant it was cut from. Hops are generally propagated from rhizomes, since only the cones of female plants are used for beer. Continue reading “in progress: garden”

things that came with the house

Several weeks ago after a windstorm, we noticed these things lying in the backyard by the fence. From the kitchen window, they looked like pieces of bread and we figured that maybe some squirrels had dropped them there, or that the neighbors had put them on top of the fence for the birds. But we didn’t bother to pick them up, because it was cold and we figured the critters would be back for them.

So they stayed there for a while until J’s mother came up to visit with her boyfriend and their dogs. Ben and Cowboy, when let out in the backyard, ran around in circles and then poked their noses into every corner and pocket. Continue reading “things that came with the house”

Knitting & Crochet Blog Week: Day 7

Day seven: 3rd April. Your knitting and crochet time.

Write about your typical crafting time. When it is that you are likely to craft – alone or in more social environments, when watching TV or whilst taking bus journeys. What items do you like to surround yourself with whilst you twirl your hook like a majorette’s baton or work those needles like a skilled set of samurai swords. Do you always have snacks to hand, or are you a strictly ‘no crumbs near my yarn!’ kind of knitter.

The most typical thing about my crocheting time is that it’s not often at my house. When I am working on something at my house, it’s usually in the piecing-together or weaving-in-ends stage, or it’s so large that working on it elsewhere is hard. But mostly, I crochet in other places.

I tend to crochet in short bursts while waiting for or doing other things. At restaurants, while waiting for the food to arrive. In the classroom before class, and during breaks. In the theatre before the lights go down, and during intermissions. I used to crochet on the bus to and from work; sometimes I crochet in the car. At baseball games, or while watching football at my parents’ house. While sitting and listening to music at festivals.

Why don’t I crochet at home? Simple: I have a cat.

This is a part of Knitting and Crochet Blog Week 2011, organized by Eskimimi. To see all the posts for Day Seven, google today’s tag.

Knitting & Crochet Blog Week: Day 6

Day six: 2nd April. Something to aspire to.

Is there a pattern or skill that you don’t yet feel ready to tackle but which you hope to (or think you can only dream of) tackling in the future, near or distant? Is there a skill or project that makes your mind boggle at the sheer time, dedication and mastery of the craft? Maybe the skill or pattern is one that you don’t even personally want to make but can stand back and admire those that do. Maybe it is something you think you will never be bothered to actually make but can admire the result of those that have.

One of the things I keep telling myself that I ought to learn how to do is knit. For several years now, I’ve been thinking that maybe I should learn– because it never hurts to the basics of how something works, so I can understand conversations at the LYS a little bit better, so I can add more variety to the things I do, etc etc etc. Yet, I haven’t gotten around to doing it, despite there being several classes around with talented teachers.

And I can’t think of exactly why that is, other than that it’s a low enough priority that it keeps getting pushed off by other things that pique my interest more. Among them:

  • Tunisian crochet
  • broomstick lace
  • Irish crochet
  • hairpin lace
  • Bruges lace
  • shibori dyeing
  • batik
  • natural dyeing

That’s just the fiber-related stuff, and not all of it. Fortunately, there’s time. I’m not that old, really.

This is a part of Knitting and Crochet Blog Week 2011, organized by Eskimimi. To see all the posts for Day Six, google today’s tag.

Knitting & Crochet Blog Week: Day 4

Day Four: 31st March. Where are they now?

Whatever happened to your __________?

Write about the fate of a past knitting project. Whether it be something that you crocheted or knitted for yourself or to give to another person. An item that lives with you or something which you sent off to charity.

There are a lot of different aspects to look at when looking back at a knitting project and it can make for interesting blogging, as much of the time we blog about items recently completed, new and freshly completed. It is not so often that we look back at what has happened to these items after they have been around for a while.

How has one of your past knits lived up to wear. Maybe an item has become lost. Maybe you spent weeks knitting your giant-footed dad a pair of socks in bright pink and green stripes which the then ‘lost’. If you have knit items to donate to a good cause, you could reflect on the ways in which you hope that item is still doing good for it’s owner or the cause it was made to support.

This is an easy one. Most of the grocery bags are still here, except one that I sold to someone, one that I sent to my sister, and one that my father uses in his booth. Mine are all holding up pretty well after many rounds of being tossed in the trunk of the car, stuffed with stuff, and being washed on hot. Also still here are the waterbottle cozy and Noro scarf.

Two of the baby blankets were given to the people for whom they were made. The others went to charity, as did the Homespun scarves.

Three afghans are here; one that I’d originally given to my grandparents and got back when they died, and two that never made it out of the house. The one for my grandparents and the green one need to be re-crocheted, since when I made them I crocheted pretty loosely. The newest one just needs the ends woven in. Another afghan went to a friend in Pittsburgh, and I don’t know where it is now.

The guacamol is, I believe, residing on top of my parents’ piano.

This is a part of Knitting and Crochet Blog Week 2011, organized by Eskimimi. To see all the posts for Day Four, google today’s tag.

Knitting & Crochet Blog Week: Day 3

Day Three: 30th March. Tidy mind, tidy stitches.

How do you keep your yarn wrangling organised? It seems like an easy to answer question at first, but in fact organisation exists on many levels. Maybe you are truly not organised at all, in which case I am personally daring you to try and photograph your stash in whatever locations you can find the individual skeins. However, if you are organised, blog about an aspect of that organisation process, whether that be a particularly neat and tidy knitting bag, a decorative display of your crochet hooks, your organised stash or your project and stash pages on Ravelry.

Yeah. Organized.

Not really. It’s a loose sort of organization– everything has a place, but sometimes it’s a rather large place. So, I accept your challenge! Starting at the top:

The bookcase in the sitting room has a few things. The really old wool is from one of my mother’s uncle’s sheep, and it’s probably about forty years old. At various points in time both my father and I tried to learn to drop spindle using it, with little success. Now it’s being turned into a pad to go underneath one of my lamps, replacing the manila envelope that’s currently protecting the table from getting rust rings on it. The fishies are cat toys that need to be felted, the stuffing is just there because it’s convenient, and the chandelier is waiting for me to take it to the Habitat store. Not seen in frame: spinning wheel.

Like many other mantelpieces, ours accumulates random stuff. In addition to many smallish breakable objects, it has a vase of hooks, some books and yarn that haven’t made it to other places, the box of rabbit parts, and our previous cat. Not seen: couch with mostly-finished afghan, bag with tablecloth-in-progress.

And now we get to the real trove, in the basement. This is what we’ve been calling the “server room.” Not all of these boxes and bags contain yarn; some contain clay and other random thingies, and some are actually empty. Somewhere in here there are baskets with yarn in them, which used to be lined up along the wall in the condo living room. Not seen: the computer rack and file cabinets.

These are in the main room in the basement. I don’t know how large the blue tubs are; we borrowed them from J’s brother to move things in. So I probably should get them unpacked and stuff shifted into bins that we own, but I haven’t gotten around to it yet. There’s also some dye supplies in here, and some miscellaneous small tools. But mostly yarn and unspun fiber.

The basement room also has a lovely built-in bookcase; this is just one section of it. Only one shelf has craft books on it; the other shelves are novels and textbooks. Not seen: games and more novels.

So that’s it. One of these days I plan to organize it all more, or at least get things out of the pile o’ boxes in the server room, but until then it’s ok. I know approximately where everything is, even if I have to go through a box or two to find it.

This is a part of Knitting and Crochet Blog Week 2011, organized by Eskimimi. To see all the posts for Day Three, google today’s tag.

Knitting & Crochet Blog Week: Day 2

Day Two: 29th March. Skill + 1UP

Look back over your last year of projects and compare where you are in terms of skill and knowledge of your craft to this time last year. Have you learned any new skills or forms of knitting/crochet (can you crochet cable stitches now where you didn’t even know such things existed last year? Have you recently put a foot in the tiled world of entrelac? Had you even picked up a pair of needles or crochet hook this time last year?

I’m sure it sounds conceited and a little bit arrogant, but I don’t believe I’ve learned anything over the past year. I don’t keep very good records and my memory’s not that great, so I had to dig through the archives on here, LJ, and Ravelry– and around this last year, I’d finished one bag and started on another.


The Zag Bag was based on a stitch pattern I found somewhere and fixed to make it less gappy and work in the round. It’s still a little gappy, but it serves the purpose for which it was made.


The Bread Quiver was born of a desire to be able to carry baguettes without them being in the hand or falling out of regularly-sized grocery bags. It is as described; a long skinny bag that holds a single baguette. It’s a stitch pattern that came out of my head; I knew I wanted something little cabley bits on, so I fiddled around until I came up with something that I both liked and worked in the round. It’s simple enough that I’m sure other folks have come up with it also.

So that’s last year. This year, I’m working on the tablecloth. Still. I’ll be working on this for a while.


Like the bags, it’s an openwork pattern. Unlike the bags, it’s flat, pieced, comes from a published pattern, and is made from very skinny yarn. It’s not the largest thing I’ve crocheted, nor is it the most complex. Nor is it the smallest yarn I’ve ever worked with although it does come close, and it doesn’t have as many ends to weave in as some of the afghans I’ve made. I’ve been able to work on it in non-home places– cars, restaurants, concerts, breaks during class– and I’ve memorized the pattern and don’t feel the need to finish a whole round or pattern repeat before stopping so I don’t get lost. So does it represent progress? Not really, since I’ve been able to do those things for quite a while now. I haven’t been pushing myself to learn new things this year.

This is a part of Knitting and Crochet Blog Week 2011, organized by Eskimimi. To see all the posts for Day Two, google today’s tag.

Knitting & Crochet Blog Week: Day 1

Day One: 28th March. A Tale of Two Yarns.

Part of any fibre enthusiast’s hobby is an appreciation of yarn. Choose two yarns that you have either used, are in your stash or which you yearn after and capture what it is you love or loathe about them.

Yarns I don’t like is easier than yarns I do. You’d think it’d be the other way around, but there are far more yarns in my “would use again if I happened to have it” category than there are in my “I’ll never use anything else but this” category. Actually, there aren’t any in the second.

Yarns I don’t want to use again, though? Several, but the two I’ll never use again are Red Heart Baby Clouds and Lion Brand Homespun.

As Lion Brand’s site says: “Soft, silky and beautiful! A uniquely textured yarn that works up quickly and easily. From shawls to sweaters to throws, this yarn can’t be beat for softness and sheer touch-ability. With solids, heathers, and beautiful self-striping “painterly” colors, Homespun comes in gorgeous shades you’ll love.”

This is true. It is a beautiful yarn. It’s very soft and cuddly, and the skeins feel nice rubbed on your face. I found it a real pain to work with, though. Homespun is a flammé-type yarn; a loosely-spun core wrapped with thread. When I crocheted with it, the core ended up sliding along the thread until I had a stretched-out section of nearly parallel core-and-thread, and a section of core that was so bunched up along the thread it looked like a stack of tires. It may be fine for knitting, or for people who don’t crochet with the yarn held as tightly as I do.

As for the Red Heart . . . there’s not a heck of a lot I can say about it, since my feelings against it aren’t nearly as strong as for the Homespun. It felt slick and slightly greasy, not nearly as soft as the Homespun despite being sold for baby items. It was very hard to see the stitches, and got caught on the hook. It squeaked.

This is a part of Knitting and Crochet Blog Week 2011, organized by Eskimimi. To see all the posts for Day One, google today’s tag.


It’s always amused me the amount of spam I get that says something along the lines of “i love ur theme/design/scheme/colors, where can i get it/r u sellin it?” If I had a custom theme I might be flattered, but I know they’re spam because a) it’s not really that awe-inspiring of a theme, and b) they have gibberish email addresses.

But in case anyone commented earlier and actually wanted to know about the current theme, it’s called Kubrick and it’s the WordPress default. So now you know. If you want it, install WordPress.

I’ve been thinking for a while that I should change it, but I haven’t been able to find anything that both does what I want and that I like. So I figured that I’d just design my own– which is not as easy as it sounds. A static webpage would be easy; I’ve done that a lot. The php parts of WordPress might be easy, but I don’t know yet– because the part where I make Apache and PHP run on my computer isn’t. I *thought* I had it working, but then I broke it. So, that’ll take a while.

But I did finish something; one cone of yarn.

This is approximately 14oz or 400g of 3/2 pearl cotton; that’s 1102 yards/1016 meters. Nowhere near large enough, but it’s getting there. I’ll need at least two more cones.

I also need to decide how I want the cloth to hang on the table. The pattern appears to want the pointed end to hang off the corner like this, but I think I like it better hanging off the end.

I have another cone, but I might put this aside for a while. I don’t want it to get too much larger while there’s so many ends to weave in, but I haven’t figured out which box my large needles got to yet.